“It was a very beautiful thing, this Golden Ticket, having been made, so it seemed, from a sheet of pure gold hammered out almost to the thinness of paper. On one side of it, printed by some clever method in jet-black letters, was the invitation itself.”
As far as creating a piece of printed marketing material goes, the splendorous Golden Ticket from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, isn’t a bad starting point.
It would serve as the perfect centre-piece for this year’s undergraduate Offer Letter Pack, which is produced in conjunction with Student Recruitment and Admissions (SRA). The packs are sent out annually over a six-month period to prospective students who have been offered a place to study at the University.
First devised in 2018, they were seen as a way of providing something more tangible to students, particularly after the offer letters traditionally delivered by post were replaced by email notification.
So, back to our Golden Ticket. What were the objectives of sending out a piece of print? What could print help us achieve that digital marketing couldn’t? Well, just like Charlie’s ticket, we had the opportunity to create something that was special and memorable, and could potentially function as a more permanent reminder.
The pack then was in part created to elicit an emotional response. This is a chance to make a connection by congratulating our offer holders and encouraging them to take pride in their achievement.
At the same time, we are creating brand familiarity while generally enhancing the way in which they perceive the University. Our core message says, “You are exceptional” – likewise, we are hoping that this sentiment is reciprocal.
The journey’s just begun – linking print and digital
Well thought-out marketing material should of course be about more than just eliciting an emotional response. When our target market engages with us we need to ensure that next steps are available.
The Golden Ticket includes a link to a bespoke offer holder landing page where potential students can learn more about studying at York and how to go on and make that a reality.
As part of the pack, it was also important to include an insert inviting our offer holders to a Post Offer Visit Day. Again we use ‘you are’ in the title to not only directly address the recipient, but also link the two slips through deliberate repetition. The second slip contains short, snappy text to outline what’s available on the day. A link to a visit days web page, where potential students can sign up, is the pack’s final, clear, call to action.
We’ve received many positive comments feedback from recipients of the packs and some have proudly shared photos of their tickets. One student in particular explained how receiving the pack made her feel special, which in turn led to a wider online conversation.
Initially a student made a comparison to another university:
“Congratulations. I didn’t receive anything like that, I only got the offer by email, but that card is so nice.”
While former students joined the conversation to praise the pack, and endorse the University and city:
“I just graduated from this university in 2018. It’s fantastic to see my former place of study doing this.”
“It’s an amazing university – I’m hoping you’ll have a fantastic time there.”
“It’s (York) a great place to find your feet as a young adult. Big enough to have everything you want, not too big to be overwhelmed.”
It’s always difficult to assess the impact of print, particularly when compared to the analytical data we can record with online campaigns.
However, the number of students visiting the Post Offer Visit Day web page has increased as we continue to refine the way in which we communicate and publicise such events.
The packs can play an important role in first establishing interest by representing something tangible, meaningful and memorable, and secondly triggering carefully devised and effective digital follow-up communications.